To get there, it took longer than expected. But once he got it, it took no time at all.
Shane Dooley is a red-shirt freshman quarterback at West Chester University. Now in his third year of college, he spent the first year at the school as an understudy to his brother Paul, who was the starting quarterback.
Last year he would have competed for the starting spot, but the season was shut down because of the pandemic.
Then at the start of the season, he missed the first game and some of the preseason with a sore elbow.
“It shut me down for a little, which was tough because I wanted to play and see what I could do,” said Dooley, who was in a quarterback competition. “I didn’t even travel to our first game. I just tried to do what I could, get ready and wait for my opportunity.”
It didn’t take long.
Dooley, a 2019 graduate of Father Judge High School, entered the Golden Rams’ second game of the season late in the first quarter. He went on to throw for three touchdowns and run for another in West Chester’s 56-10 win over Mercyhurst. He threw for 208 yards on 10 attempts and gained 45 yards on the ground in his debut.
It took a while to get there, but it couldn’t have been a better first impression.
“It was a great day, I knew at some point I’d get a chance, and I was really happy when I got the opportunity, we played well,” said the Fox Chase resident, who entered the game with the Golden Rams down 7-0. “The speed of the game is a lot different. That was the biggest thing. I felt really good out there, but it was fast. You can practice all you want, nothing prepares you for playing college football other than playing college football.”
Dooley had a great individual day, but he’s as good as passing out praise as he is throwing darts to receivers.
He credited his coaching staff. He credited his playmakers. And like any smart quarterback, he credited his offensive line, which includes former Father Judge teammate Dom Carey and Archbishop Ryan graduate Brendan Ruskowski.
“The offensive line played great, they always do,” Dooley said. “The receivers made great plays. We have a really good offense. The offense can be really explosive.
“The coaching staff always has us really prepared. They had us all ready. This offense, you can do some great things, as a quarterback. I just tried to go out and do my part.”
Dooley believes a year of understudy during his red-shirt year helped him prepare for the season. That year, he was learning under his older brother Paul. While Paul has graduated, he’s always there to help his younger brothers, Shane and Aidan, who is a senior quarterback at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy where he is putting up huge numbers.
The entire family is close and the brothers are always talking football.
“Paul is retired, but he’s always there for us, we’re in a group text and we’re always talking about it,” Dooley said. “And Aidan is doing great at Springside Chestnut Hill. We are all quarterbacks, so we talk about it all the time. I don’t know how it happened, our dad played football but he was a defensive player. We are all quarterbacks, always have been.
“It helps a lot. It helped a lot to have Paul up here when I was starting out. We’re all there for each other. We’re a close family, and we love talking football, so when someone needs advice, we’re all there.”
That support doesn’t end with his brothers.
With so many games going around, the family was always on the run. Even now, sometimes they have to play a zone to make it to all the games.
“Last weekend was great, my dad went to watch Aidan play and my mom and aunt made the trip to Mercyhurst,” Dooley said. “We’re very lucky. Not just our parents, but our aunts, uncles, grandparents. We have so much support. And it means a lot. After a big win or a tough loss, there’s nothing better than seeing your family after a game.”
His family aren’t the only familiar faces he’s seen at West Chester.
The Golden Rams heavily recruit in the Catholic League, so Dooley is now teammates with many of the guys he played against during his days at Judge.
That’s no coincidence.
“There are a lot of great leagues around, but I think the Catholic League is very good and we do get a lot of guys from there,” Dooley said. “And playing in the Catholic League really prepares you. I think my last two years at Judge, we played Wood, La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep back to back to back both years. When you’re playing teams like Wood, La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep, you’re getting better.”
Dooley, who also starred in basketball at Judge, is hoping he can continue improving and guiding the Golden Rams to good things. He’s also excited about doing well in the classroom, where he is majoring in education and hopes to become a math teacher.
“When my football days are done, I would love to be a math teacher, middle school probably,” Dooley said. “And coach. I would love to coach. I love being around the game.
“I’ve been really lucky. I had great coaches my whole life. Coach (Mike) McKay at Judge and Coach (Bill) Zwaan. They have had big impacts on me. I think that would be a great job when I’m done playing.”
But that’s a long way away. And he’s going to have as much fun as possible while he’s playing.
“I approach it the same,” Dooley said. “I try never to get too up when we’re doing well and never get too down when we’re not. I’ll enjoy wins and when we lose, I’ll try to learn from my mistakes, but I have the same approach.
“We have a really good team. Great line, great receivers, great running backs and a great defense. We have a lot of talent. We have great coaches who have us prepared. Things are going good.”